West Nile Virus is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain in horses. Animals are infected when they are bitten by an infectious mosquito. West Nile can result in damage to the central nervous system and even death.
Symptoms of West Nile
Horses infected with West Nile Virus have difficulty walking, muscle tremors, tilted head, difficultly getting up, and other neurological symptoms. It is important to note that not all horses exhibiting these symptoms have West Nile. Other neurological disorders can present the same symptoms.
In order to determine if your horse's symptoms are caused by West Nile or another disease, call your veterinarian to do some tests. Your vet will pull blood and evaluate the samples to see if the blood contains high levels of the antibodies for West Nile.
Once a horse has contracted West Nile, there is no specific treatment to cure the disease. Fortunately, most horses with West Nile will recover from the disease. The best course of action is to treat the horse with supportive veterinary care as you would with any other viral infection. Your vet can also help you develop a plan to prevent secondary infections and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.
There is a vaccine available through veterinarians for West Nile. This vaccine, combined with a good pest management program to reduce the mosquito population around your horses, can aid in preventing West Nile Virus from affecting your equines.